The Washington, D.C. Project Center


The first Washington Project Center team in 1974.






History and Goals

The Washington, D.C. Project Center (WPC) was established in 1974 as Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s first off-campus project center. It serves as a model for all other off-campus project centers. The success of this unique initiative helped develop the Global Projects Program. To date it encompasses 46 project centers around the world. Specifically in Washington, students have the opportunity to work with various government and non-government sponsors. While completing their project, they are exposed to the rich history and significance that our nation’s capital has to offer.

Since its culmination, there have been four center directors: Frank Lutz, Susan Vernon-Gerstenfeld, David DiBiasio, and currently Kent Rissmiller. These directors have been instrumental in the success of the program.

Since 1974 the WPC has seen over 1,200 students complete their IQP and work with over 80 sponsors. The goal of the project center is to continue cultivating interdisciplinary experiences that allow students to mature and grow.

WPC Process and Timeline

The IQP program is a 14-week, immersive process. During the first seven weeks, students take ID2050 (a prep course in addition to other classes) which prepares for them for the project while also teaching some general skills (interview, survey, and writing). During this time students focus on background research and the development of their methodology. The next seven weeks are spent on-site in Washington, D.C. where the students work at their sponsor’s organization full-time to meet project objectives. During this time they implement their methodology, making adjustments as issues arise. Throughout the entire process students are advised by two faculty members, who oversee the students’ progress and efforts. The sponsor’s liaison provides guidance throughout the first seven weeks and takes on a more active role once students arrive in Washington. The IQP allows students to experience the real world environment while tackling a real world problem.